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Monday, December 12, 2005

Lazy Education Post

What with being in the middle of voting for Wisconsin Blog of the Year (*cough cough*), I feel a lot of pressure to write long, eloquent posts about the important issues of the day. But I'm tired, and I have work to do. So instead I'll point you to what I consider to be the important part of Alan Borsuk's story (part two of three) today:
What to do about the troubled voucher schools and what, if anything, to require that they disclose about their performance, is a controversial and central question for the schools along North Ave. and throughout the city.

Many supporters of vouchers say the purpose of the program is to make private school options available to low-income families in the city and that the force of parental choice is a good form of accountability. Making voucher school students take state tests would crimp the schools' programs and force them to be like public schools, the argument goes.

Critics argue that it is unfair to require a school such as Metcalfe to be so open to public view while effectively closing to public scrutiny nearby voucher schools. This argument goes: If you don't want to be part of the state accountability system, don't take state money. [. . .] To voucher supporters, such as former MPS superintendent Howard Fuller, the answer is to tighten regulations to deal with bad performing schools and conduct a large-scale, long-term study to see how voucher students are doing compared with similar public school students. [. . .]

Enforcement efforts by state officials this school year against three school operators followed a new strategy of trying to cut off public money for schools. But it appears at least two of the schools will remain in the program. A state hearing examiner recently ruled against the state in those cases, according to DPI spokesman Joe Donovan. The state has not indicated whether it will appeal.

And some of the schools where the quality of education is questionable - where teachers have little background in education, where curriculum is unclear or dubious, where the school philosophy cannot be explained clearly - continue to operate because the administrators are able to meet the state's administrative rules. The new rules do not give the state substantial oversight over the schools' educational programs.
Of course, this part of the story was buried at the bottom when it should be front and center in any discussion of Milwaukee's ecuational landscape.

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